War survival kits offered as gifts for annual S Korean holiday

Demand for war survival kits is rising ahead of the annual Chuseok holiday, as many South Koreans are concerned about the escalating inter-Korean tension on the peninsula.

"There has been a recent surge in demand for such survival kits," Hong Soon-chul, head of the marketing communications team at E-Bay Korea, told The Korea Herald.

"We don't advertise or market such items because it could raise unnecessary concerns, but the demand is out there," he said.

Exact figures for the demand of such products on local e-commerce sites under E-Bay Korea were unavailable, but another online shopping mall Auction said earlier this month that the demand for combat rations had increased 77 per cent while portable radios jumped 46 per cent between Sept. 2 and Sept. 5. Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3.

A shipping company headquartered in Gangnam, Seoul, delivered special survival kits to its employees on Sept. 22, Yonhap News Agency reported Monday. The company posted an official announcement asking its workers to pick up their packages containing "emergency survival products necessary in the current situation in and out of our nation."

The kit contains a total of 15 wartime necessities such as combat rations, a lightweight sleeping bag, a hand-cranked radio, a first-aid kit and other products for survival.

"I was confused (by the idea) at first, but I thought it wouldn't be bad to have a war survival kit at home after watching recent news," an unnamed employee at the firm told Yonhap.

A growing number of South Koreans are also uploading photos of self-prepared survival kits on social media, according to recent reports. Korean media has labelled such people as a new generation of "preppers" -- a modern interpretation of the "doomsday preppers" during the Cold War.

Seoul's Interior and Safety Ministry also recommends citizens to prepare at least one "go-bag" per family. It suggests packing products that can sustain a family for at least 72 hours.

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho on Saturday threatened to take "merciless preventive action," if the US displays any sign of an "decapitating operation" toward the rogue state. This follows Ri's separate comment to reporters, saying that the North is considering the detonation of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific.

US President Donald Trump claimed the US could "totally destroy" North Korea if it decided to attack the US, during his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19. North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on Sept. 15 closely following its sixth nuclear experiment, in clear defiance of Trump's latest rhetoric and the United Nation Security Council's fresh set of sanctions against its regime.

Chuseok is South Korea's traditional autumn harvest celebration. It is customary for companies here to hand out gifts to its employees ahead of the Chuseok holiday. The gifts are usually food-related packages or a box full of hygiene products.

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